Sage-grouse, © Jean Bjerke

Westerners want to save the sage-grouse (and so do I)

A new poll conducted by Tulchin Research for Defenders of Wildlife found that the majority of voters in western states want to see sage-grouse protected, even if that means listing the bird under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Add to that one New Jerseyan. I didn’t know what a sage-grouse was before I began working for Defenders of Wildlife. Now I consider myself, like the majority of westerners, an advocate for their protection.

Sage-grouse are a special bird. They have a long and storied history in our country and are an iconic ambassador of a quintessentially western landscape, the Sagebrush Sea. Today, greater sage-grouse range has been reduced by nearly half and populations have declined by up to 90 percent.Sage-grouse, © NPS

And the grouse aren’t the only sagebrush species at risk – the loss of sage-grouse on the western landscape is signaling alarm bells for a much greater problem. The Sagebrush Sea is home to hundreds of other species of wildlife, including golden eagles, mule deer, elk, pronghorn and native trout. Unfortunately, millions of acres of sagebrush grasslands have been lost to agriculture and development over the past 200 years. What remains is fragmented and degraded by poorly managed oil and gas drilling, livestock grazing, mining, unnatural fire, invasive weeds, off-road vehicles, roads, fences, pipe¬lines and utility corridors.

Westerners have noticed what’s happening around them, and they don’t like it. By paying attention to the plight of sage-grouse, and doing our best to protect them, we also protect the Sagebrush Sea and all of its inhabitants. Polling has confirmed that the majority of voters throughout Colorado, Nevada, Wyoming and Montana want to see sage-grouse protected for future generations. People do not want to see the terrible trends of species and habitat loss continue, and they want their leaders to make sure sage-grouse survive.

In fact, according to the poll,

  • 71% of voters support protections for and conservation of sage-grouse;
  • 67% of voters across the region favor listing sage-grouse under the ESA if current conservation plans are inadequate to protect the species; and
  • 51% of voters are more likely to support political leaders who support protecting the sage-grouse.

I certainly wish someone had asked me about my feelings on the loss of wildlife and habitat in New Jersey before it was too late. In the West we still have a chance to conserve sage-grouse and sagebrush grasslands, and it is our responsibility for ourselves and for future generations to do so.

Courtney Sexton is a Communications Associate at Defenders of Wildlife

10 Responses to “Westerners want to save the sage-grouse (and so do I)”

  1. Teddy Lynn Zaring

    dear sir: I come to you with concerns for the sage-grouse and the sagebrush sea. due to the destruction of the sagebrush sea by so many issues. Which also includes oil and gas drilling we are losing a great majority of our wildlife and plant life in this area. The sage-grouse has lost over 90% of its population.I would like to see you that it is protected so that we do not lose that totally. As has happened in other states. please make sure these lands are protected to where the wild life can survive. Also that the land will survive. please overlook any grammatical errors my phone is not working well. & I have to use the microphone because of my health. thank you very much for your time.

  2. Erica Minglis

    If all creatures could live in peace, it would be a better world.

  3. Rosa Amelia Naranjo R.

    Hi! I want to do more to help animals around the world, I live in Japan, how can I be acepted for adopt an animal?
    And thank you all for your work.

    • Defenders of Wildlife

      Hi Rosa. We are unable to send adoption kits outside the United States, due to high shipping costs. To maximize the funds that we can spend on our innovative and successful wildlife conservation efforts, we must keep costs associated with mailing and shipping at the lowest possible level. We apologize for any inconvenience.

      However, anyone can make an adoption or gift from anywhere in the world so long as it is shipped within the U.S.

      There are other ways to support Defenders’ work as well! Non-US residents can donate online at or mail a donation (check or money order in U.S. currency) to:

      Defenders of Wildlife
      National Headquarters
      1130 17th Street, NW
      Washington, DC 20036

      We will certainly let our Marketing Department know that our international supporters are interested in ordering adoption kits. We appreciate your feedback and your support.

  4. Pete Weisbeck

    I live in the bighorn basin area of Wyoming….and I have found out that a bentonite company near Thermopolis, Wyoben…is planning on opening a new open pit bentonite mine on BLM land in a sage grouse core management area…this is a new mine , apart by miles from the company’s other mines, and is situated in a core area. I have no idea how to proceed on this matter…if some one could please give me some advice on how to prevent this before it is too late I would greatly appreciate it…the mine is planned to open in 2 or 3 years…Thanks…Pete Weisbeck


    I’m only 10 but I under stand this need has to stop all animals deserve the best!


  6. John

    You need much more research before you can form a valid arguement. Only listing stats on what voters want is meaningless because the solid majority are uneducated on the topic.

You May also be interested in